This post of mine was published in DNA dated 16th April 12. See the link here:
Women, rise to this Challenge
When I was born, my maternal grandmother was disappointed because she wanted to have a grandson after my sister (I’ve been told). When I was growing up, there was this aunt who used to pointedly say, “What’s the big deal if she is good at studies. She is a girl. She will get married and go away.” No, I was not oppressed, got the best of opportunities in life, had a loving dad and mom, a father who till today will support any decision I take and says that self-respect must not be compromised no matter what. Yet, I’ve had numerous incidents where I heard comments related to my gender – sometimes said in a pretty matter-of-fact way. It is the truth, and we cannot shirk this fact away.
When I was in school, I had a close friend who had 4 sisters. Her youngest sister was born when her eldest one was doing her graduation! Her parents were well-educated people well-placed in life yet conditioned in their thinking. The women forced to abort their foetuses in Northern India are not necessarily from poor families. Those who want to disown their girls in hospitals and fight over someone else’s boy child, are not necessarily poor or uneducated either. Let’s face it! In India, there is a lot of desire and social conditioning for a male offspring even in today’s times, even in rich families who can afford to have girls, and even openly voiced by women! Education and exposure is making a difference, but mindsets, especially of the older generation, take a long time to change. We often fail to realize the impact that upbringing has on how a child will grow up to be an adult. Girls brought up in regressive families, tend to be meeker and more tolerant of abuse then those brought up in more liberal environment. The same applies to men brought up in families where fathers are stronger, controlling and abusive. If we don’t teach our sons to respect and love women, you can be sure that they will not when they are adults.
As a society, in India,we will do anything to have our own children — go through painful treatments and multitude of them. Many will try again and again to have male kids. Adoption is a rare option for us. Even those who adopt prefer male children and those who adopt girls will always look for “fair” girls. Oh no, this is no exaggeration. No one will even look at a child with disabilities for adoption, and darker girls find it very hard to find adoptive parents. We might shake our heads and say this is not true. But, as a society, we are still trapped in the cobwebs of our biases.
The recent incidents of the death of baby Afreen
and baby Falak
are truly appalling and repulsive. Poor baby Afreen gave up her struggle with life yesterday, when she was admitted to a hospital in Bangalore after being brutally attacked, bitten, and shaken by her father that caused her to have injuries that she succumbed to yesterday. She was all of 85 days old! As much as I hate her father and wish death upon him, I can’t stop wondering why her mother could not seek help about her father’s brutal beatings and assault. She knew he hated the child and repeatedly made his hatred known both physically and verbally. This is where lies the crux of the problem. Was it the poverty of her parents, financial dependence, fear of society, inability to move out of an abusive situation, or inability to raise her voice against her husband that led to this situation?
The problem is manifold — Firstly, a society that still drags forward this decayed mindset and a fascination for a male child. Secondly, the role of women in this society, the mothers and the grandmothers who are unable to protect their girl babies. Why do they yield to a man who asks them to destroy their foetusus, or who mistreats their girl child? Many times these women are educated and financially independent too, yet they keep quiet and tolerate abuse and in turn, teach their girls to bear abuse. Why have we failed to empower their minds where they can stand with what is right? Why is their fear for society forcing them to play out the charade of a happy family when they tolerate abuse and take drastic measures towards their girl children? How can mils abuse their dils and torture them when they are unable to bear boys? How can a woman do this to another woman? How can a mother not stand up for her children? I fail to understand these questions.
As a mother, I know, that I will kill to protect my children, and I am not saying this only for effect. I wish more women in India would say no more to killing of their girls!
Pic Courtesy: Clare Bloomfield / FreeDigitalPhotos.net